GUEST BLOG: The importance of tackling important and difficult pieces… especially at Christmas.

By George Fairclough

Christmas – a time for festivities and fun. For benevolence and joy as we gather around our dinner tables with those that we love and celebrate another year together.

Yet, this is not the case for everybody.

The Christmas season can be, for many, a period of worry and loneliness.

A season for grief and sadness.

Over the course of the pandemic, millions of people around the world have lost their loved ones and this Christmas, it may be harder to process.

Talking about death and bereavement has become a sort of taboo and yet it is all around us. Those experiencing it are often unable to share and those who aren’t are hesitant to listen in fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’.

There is, however, a danger in not having the conversation.

What that does, is remove the voice of people who already feel voiceless. Instead, what we need to do is invoke awareness and create a space where people are comfortable to share what they’re feeling. We need to have resources already in place for us to be able to find the support that we need. We need to encourage people to openly have these conversations and ask for help.

Here, at Little Angel Theatre, we believe that through talking about death and other difficult topics we can find our way, together.

Theatre has and always will be reflective of life. There is magic in how transformative live theatre can be across many aspects of our lives. Puppetry often breaks down the barriers for those who find it difficult to express how they feel.

George Fairclough

This year, we are celebrating 60 years of theatre at Little Angel Theatre. Little Angel first opened its doors on 24th November 1961 under the leadership of John Wright. The theatre was designed for children and for the presentation of marionette shows. Now, under the leadership of Artistic Director Samantha Lane and Executive Director Peta Swindall, boundary-pushing puppetry is at the heart of our unique theatre. We aim to ignite the imaginations of the youngest minds and equip tomorrow’s puppeteers with the skills to become world-class artists.

During the last year, that is exactly what we have done. Through our artistic programme, we have presented our audiences with key issues that we, as a human race, must face. Our planet is in critical need of help. Our latest production of There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom & Other Stories, inspired by the Greenpeace campaign films and James Sellick’s book, implores our audiences to take action now; because no one is too small to make a difference.

Our newest show There May Be A Castle – a musical adaptation from Piers Torday’s brilliant book of the same name – is no different. This remarkable story about love, loss and the power of the imagination is an important piece of theatre for children and parents alike. The story, adapted for the stage by Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane deals with the death of the protagonist, Mouse. The music and puppetry allow us to escape into a fantasy world full of excitement and wonder, ultimately tackling death in a sensitive and imaginative way.

From a marketing perspective, this piece has posed some interesting questions. For example: how do we talk about death at a time when everybody is supposed to be happy? Or, why would parents want to expose their children to bereavement?

We knew we didn’t have all the answers but we felt it was imperative to answer honestly. We felt it important to look after our audiences but we didn’t want to shy away from those difficult questions. We hope that our production starts conversations and empowers the next generation by giving them the tools they need to be both equipped and empathetic within this ever-changing world.

Ultimately, the show is a celebration of life. Mouse, shows an enormous amount of courage throughout the story and we want everybody to know that even in the most difficult of times, there will always be someone who can help. We all have great strength inside of us and this show is the epitome of that.

There May Be A Castle is running at Little Angel Theatre from 13th November – 23 January 2022. To find out more about the show and book your tickets, click here.

With thanks to Child Bereavement UK for their invaluable guidance.

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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